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More evacuations, firefighters injured, helicopter water drops at night to help fight lake fire in Santa Barbara County | Local News

Lake Fire firefighters used helicopters to drop water throughout the night to protect properties along Happy Canyon. They expect to receive nighttime air support again Tuesday, incident commander Anthony Stornetta told county supervisors.

“This is something extraordinary, we haven’t done anything like this in a long time,” he said during a morning board meeting.

Stornetta, the Santa Barbara County Fire emergency operations chief, said they plan to bring in additional CalFire helicopters for nighttime water drops Tuesday, with the weather forecast for the day calling for high temperatures and strong winds.

The Figueroa Mountain-area weather station recorded a temperature of 86 degrees and 6 percent relative humidity at 11 p.m. Monday. “That’s incredible at 11 p.m.,” Stornetta said.

The fire is moving southeast, and the Unified Command – County Fire Department, CalFire and Forest Service – is preventing the fire from spreading to communities to the south.

Stornetta confirmed that the fire has also spread to wild areas where firefighters and equipment have difficulty accessing.

He told supervisors that several firefighters were injured in the wildfire, but no civilian injuries or deaths were reported. No damage or destruction to homes was reported, but one forest outbuilding was damaged as of Tuesday, he said.

County orders more evacuations

At noon Tuesday, county officials again expanded evacuation orders and warning zones to include the Woodstock, Goat Rock and Santa Barbara forest areas east of Goat Rock.

Warning areas were also expanded by the Sheriff’s Office: “The area east and north of Alisos Rd (L-shaped road), west of Cachuma Creek and south of the US Forest Service entrance at Happy Canyon Road. The area east of Highway 154, north of Armour Ranch Road/Secretariate St, west of Alisos Rd and south of Woodstock. The area east of Figueroa Mountain Road, north of Highway 154, west of Calzada Ave/W Oak Trail Rd and south of Woodstock Rd.”

Click here to view an interactive map of evacuation orders and applicable warning areas.

Highway 154 is not in the evacuation zone and is open to traffic. Near Painted Cave Road, one-way traffic remains in effect for emergency repairs on the Santa Barbara side.

The Lake Fire map shows current evacuation orders (in red) and evacuation warnings (in orange) for Santa Barbara County. Loan: Screenshot via Santa Barbara County

After Stornetta’s report, Supervisor Joan Hartmann of the Third District asked how much notice residents would receive about the evacuation.

“How do you go from an evacuation warning to ‘you have to get out of here’?” Hartmann asked.

Stornetta and Todd Hopkins of CalFire confirmed that residents will receive evacuation notifications via Ready SBC alerts, and sheriff’s deputies and search and rescue crews are also knocking on doors.

Residents of warning zones should take family, pets and important materials such as documents with them, they said.

“Be prepared,” Stornetta told Noozhawk. “If you have a little warning, be ready to go. Don’t wait for the order to come. Get everything ready and follow the evacuation.”

Firefighters reported injured

As of Tuesday morning, the Lake Fire had burned 26,178 acres and was 12% contained.

Stornetta said 2,485 people have been assigned to the fire, but several hundred more are expected Tuesday as more resources arrive. He said 190 fire trucks and 70 hand crews are being used.

So far, authorities have not reported any civilian deaths or injuries.

“We’re not aware of any injuries related to the evacuation or anything like that,” Stornetta told Noozhawk. “We had a few injuries to firefighters on the line. So unfortunately we had some of those.”

He said the injuries were serious but that all injured firefighters were expected to recover. He did not provide details.

Stornetta said that when it comes to homes and buildings, firefighters are still assessing the damage, but so far it has been confirmed that the only outbuilding damaged is an outbuilding in the forest area.

“We haven’t heard of any homes being lost, but that’s the latest information we have,” he said.

Fire Movement

The fire is currently spreading into the wildland along the Cachuma Saddle off Mount Figueroa, and authorities are reporting active fires near Happy Canyon.

Stornetta also said firefighters are seeing “good performance” from operations near Foxen Canyon Road.

Road closures are in effect there and near Zaca Lake. Stornetta said officials will reopen the road once they have the fire under control.

“I know there’s a lot of concern about some of the businesses here, and that’s our priority. We want people to come back and we want those wineries to open up,” he said.

However, they are expecting strong winds from the northeast overnight, which could affect the fire. County officials have issued an air quality alert for the Los Olivos area due to smoke and ash from the fire. Check the air quality here.

One of the challenges crews face is the terrain, which Stornetta described as “steep” and “uneven.” That makes it difficult for crews to keep their balance, especially since many are working long shifts and trying to stay hydrated in the heat.

Another concern is the amount of grass providing fuel for the fire, which officials attribute to heavy rainfall over the past few years.

“Thicker grass allows the fire to move through good fuels and burn faster,” said Hopkins of CalFire.

Check back with Noozhawk regularly for the latest news on the lake fire.

Noozhawk editor-in-chief Giana Magnoli contributed to this article.